I've just purchased an Intel Xeon E5-1650-V3, which I intend to use in a workstation (mid-tower). As a CPU cooler, I bought an Arctic Freezer i11. (The motherboard is an ASrock X99 Extreme4.) I've assembled many PCs in the past, but never with a Xeon, so I was rather surprised to see that the CPU package is so large! So large, in fact, that the heatsink (image with dimensions; 30x25mm) will not cover the entire area of the CPU package (image with dimensions; 41x37mm).

preview 1preview 2

I was wondering whether this will be a problem or not? Strangely I could not find anything about this online; now this could be because it's obviously OK (the CPU is socket 2011-3, the cooler is certified for that type of socket), or maybe no one has tried to use a consumer-grade cooler with a Xeon before. So before I fry this rather expensive CPU, could someone please tell me whether this cooler will work with it?

  • 1
    Not sure if you want the Intel tag here. This question is just as valid for other CPUs and other coolers.
    – Hennes
    Jun 4, 2015 at 10:22
  • The only issue is that you've increased the junction to ambient thermal resistance of the system, though not by a huge amount. Jun 4, 2015 at 14:01
  • Thanks for all the answers. Just to let everyone know: the machine is now running, with the stated cooler, and idles at around 37°C, while reaching 75°C when maximally stressed for a while. Perfect temps!
    – EelkeSpaak
    Jun 12, 2015 at 7:58

3 Answers 3


The part of the CPU in contact with the cooler is just a heat spreader. As long as the heat sink draws sufficient heat away from the spreader, it should be fine. Just be sure to watch the temperatures.

A delidded CPU

As you can see, the actual processor is quite small compared to the CPU package.


I used to have a cooler in that line with that same contact surface and it worked fine. Some additional tips: The part of the CPU you see is the heat spreader. The actual chip is usually a good deal smaller. Obviously contact with the entire spreader is ideal, but a sufficiently good cooler (which the Arctic Freezers usually are) can work with less. A good thermal paste will help a lot.

As others have said, definitely watch your temps with a good utility after you install it, but to expand on that point you should always watch your temps after you install a new heatsink. I'd be less concerned about the cooler's surface area and more concerned about installation mistakes. On some motherboards it's really easy to misalign or otherwise not get a good seat on the spreader. And keep watching those temps for awhile. Thermal pastes have a break in period that's usually around 24 (working) hours. If you don't use your machine all the time that can actually take awhile.

On the subject of thermal pastes, a lot of people are still recommending Arctic Silver 5. I prefer Prolimatech's PK-1. If you're very new or have tremors in your hands I recommend something like PK-1 or Arctic Ceramique. They're electrically insulating, so it's not a big deal if you get some on the traces on your motherboard.

  • Specifically, I would recommend booting into BIOS, watching the temps there for an hour-ish, the booting into your OS and using a utility to watch temps during normal use for a day-ish, and then running a stress test and watching temps with a utility.
    – TBridges42
    Jun 4, 2015 at 19:02
  • Some Googling says most thermal pastes these days are electrically non-conductive, so ignore that recommendation. They made a big deal about it back when I was learning this stuff.
    – TBridges42
    Jun 4, 2015 at 19:06

I have a xeon in my workstation which I was surprised to see had the fan half off the CPU. I didn't install it, but here's an image. It has similar copper heat pipes.

enter image description here

I'm no expert and to be on the safe side I'd boot into the bios config and watch the temp to make sure it stabilizes and doesn't look like it's heading into the 100s.

  • 8
    @Ruslan "why reboot into BIOS Setup" - not reboot, boot. I.e. just after you install the heatsink. I suggested booting into the BIOS because you want to see temperatures as quick as possible. Waiting for the OS to load only to find the CPU has been overheating probably isn't ideal. I think CPUs will throttle and switch off if they get too hot but probably best to catch it before then. Without a proper heatsink switching off may be too late.
    – jozxyqk
    Jun 4, 2015 at 13:38
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    Modern CPUs usually have temperature cut-offs which will automatically shut the system down or at the very least throttle the CPU before damage occurs, no? I think you're unlikely to melt/explode the CPU by accident unless you've been playing around with core voltages and have input something stupid.
    – WhatEvil
    Jun 4, 2015 at 14:35
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    @WhatEvil a CPU can heat up very fast. I would be impressed if it could save itself but would be surprised if I booted a machine without a heatsink and it survived. That said I've seen a large firmly-held-in-place spanner used as a temporary heatsink so I would think an improperly fitted one would be ok at least for a little while.
    – jozxyqk
    Jun 4, 2015 at 14:47
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    I've had a cpu fitted before (not by me) that had almost no contact because the thermal paste was poorly applied. It still took a minute or so to heat up enough for the motherboard warning siren to go. Edit: That's not to say I'd recommend it!
    – WhatEvil
    Jun 4, 2015 at 14:50
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    I booted an AMD Duron machine in ~2007 without connecting the fan by mistake. I always boot into the BIOS and check the temp, and this time it saved me. I saw 104 on the screen and yanked the plug. No damage, I was still using that machine when I moved house in 2010. Arctic silver paste, stock heatsink, typical consumer motherboard. I remember it well because only about a month prior I had an Intel (Core Duo I think) fry at 72 degrees while doing some heavy processing for a few hours.
    – dotancohen
    Jun 4, 2015 at 23:57

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